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The time has come

A fact’s a fact

It belongs to them

Lets give it back.

mario-bros

Yes, crappy 80s lyrics for a less then crappy video game, to say the least. Super Mario Bros is the game you had to play if you grew up in the late 80s or the early 90s, you had to play Super Mario Bros. It was essentially the COD 4: Modern Warfare of days gone by. It’s influence never went away, and can best be seen with the indie hits Super Meat Boy and Braid in 2010. If you ask any gamer older then the age of 25 what game helped them become infatuated with all things fun and electronic, they will more then likely cite the little red plumber that could.

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So what was it about the first Super Mario Bros. game for the NES that not only made the console a success, but the resurrection of console gaming successful as well? Many things. For one, it pioneered just about every kind of commonplace trick in the game development handbook; teaching the player though design, multiple paths to the same goal, secret levels, warp zones, power-ups, coin collecting, and even the common boss battle all started with Super Mario Bros. It didn’t just save the game industry; it made it what it is today, and will continue to spread its influence on games, gamers, and game makers as a whole. If you want to design video games, I would say it’s just about paramount to get some hands on time with this game. If you have a Wii, try to find it on the virtual console in the Wii Store. If you don’t have any of the nintendo systems, get on Ebay. Or better yet, look up the Nintendo website or watch videos like this one. Good sources on the material at hand.

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I will be reviewing this game like any other; complete with the Good, the Bad, and the Summary. Like all my retro reviews, this will be more about what the game did then wheather or not you should buy it. If you are reading this article wondering if you should buy Super Mario Bros, I will save you time and effort by saying this; go buy the game, and don’t tell any of your gamer friends you were unsure. They will smack you upside the head for your perceived ignorance. Just buy it. It’s worth it. Here are a few reasons why, in the form of a review.

To be clear; Super Mario Bros for the NES is a…

Very Fun

 

Somewhat Punishing

 

Genre Defining Platformer

Again, click on any line for more details. In case you were wondering, this format did work well for me and I might just climb out of obscurity yet.

Next week, we delve into another classic, but Unlike Super Mario Bros, you might not be immediately familar with it unless your a die hard Zelda fan. That’s right; next review is…

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It’s July, and for a gamer that means three things.

  1. Less and less excuses to stay inside and play games.
  2. Less and less holidays for gamers to give or receive new games.
  3. Less and less and even less reasons for publishers to release brand spanking new games to retailers.

These are the ingredients to the ever dreaded summer draught that plagues the industry annually like a migrating flock of money eating locus. True, the vast majority of gamers are no longer teenagers and children, but until the big players in the current industry mold adjust their business models to compensate for that, most of the big budget games aren’t going to be released until at least October. That includes the vast majority of the titles I showed you on my E3 bulliten are in that pile, and on top of that, the last PS4 contest I ran left my wallet bone dry. So here I am – no games to buy and no money to buy them with. At least not from the triple A world. That’s why I’m going to do something different this summer; Today, on the first day of July, I will begin what I like to call Retro Month. From now on, every July, I will be unearthing games that have been out for a while and reviewing them based on both their historical merits, and how they stack up to today’s standards. August, meanwhile, will from now on be Indie Month. The theme there will be nothing but reviews of Indie titles; games that have a low budget, come from a small, obscure team, and/or can be found on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstaion Store, Steam, or App store exclusively. I might even be able to get an interview with an Indie dev with insights on how to break into the industry. This way, I can save my earnings by playing games I already own and then buying games for cheap quickly and swiftly.

Let Retro Month…Begin!

 

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If the title of this article and the big picture wasn’t enough of a hint, we are going to review a certain kind of system for you today. It’s the system that resurrected the game industry from what was then certain extinction. The crash of the 80s was a kiss of death for companies like Atari, Colecovision, and the likes of which you will never hear of because they died before they went public. To this day, they are unearthing the remains of E.T. for Atari, a game so bad that they literally took all the unsold copies and buried them in the desert. Such stories are not only common then but are common in the now, and history would repeat itself had the people who changed it for the better not become the kings of the new world.

For you see, after the games market collapsed, mainstream america and it’s media declared video games a dead fad. A reasonable estimate at the time, since fads that come and go have pretty much illustrated both the latter half of the 70s and the early 80s (Pet Rock, anyone?). It was the general consensus of just about every pundit on 1984 prime time that the video game fad had come and gone and the world was ready to move on to more important things, like computers. The fact that computers usually had interactive games on them was rarely discussed. What was normally discussed was the booming economy of Japan and the corporate powerhouses whose imported goods were quickly flooding the US markets. Products that came from the land of the rising sun were quickly starting to outnumber American made products, and no more was this apparent then the arcade. Among them, a great and ambitious game called Donkey Kong was king of the pizzeria, and was making a killing for the toy company that made it. You may have heard of that company; they call themselves Nintendo these days.

To make a long history lesson short, the designer of the game Shigeru Myamoto wanted to try something ambitious, CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi (died fairly recently) went along with it, and one extremely clever Market campaign and 60 million sales later, the game business was back and made Nintendo it’s king.

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This little system that could is what started it all; the Nintendo Entertainment System. NES for short. For many of you, it was probably your first real taste of what video gaming is all about. Join the club, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t mind the crowd. My professor for video game design Ryan Morrison said it best when he described us as the Nintendo generation. Like generation X, we proud ourselves on being different and often define ourselves by our entertainment choices. We also tend to have our views shaped by the technologies that made our generation possible, and which continue to affect our world. The ballads of Super Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have repeated themselves throughout the ages, and they all had their first adventures on our TV with this little cartridge machine.

I won’t lie to you; unearthing this thing from my mother’s basement was a blast from the past. Games I fondly remember playing over and over again in the days of yore resonated within my mind as I search through each cartridge. I had it hooked up to my room fairly easily, and it took a lot of patience just to get the thing working. Not surprising, since the game is almost as old as I am. For the record, I turned 27 this year, and I started playing this thing when I was two years old. As Gabe from Penny-Arcade once said, this system is old enough to drink.

God, that was a long introduction. Is everyone still with us? Good. Lets begin the review then.

Real quick though; this isn’t about the quality of the system. Period. For it’s generation, this machine was a revolution in gaming. The review is more for what that revolution was, and how it might affect you if you get the same nostalgia bug that bit me and decide to unearth your own. Enjoy.

 

Beautifully Simple

 

Often Unreliable

 

Gaming History Piece

 

That’s it. If your wondering where the rest of the review is, know that this time I’m trying something different. I have a seperate article linked to each line of words on the Seven Word Synopsis, and all you need to do is click on one to see a better description of what I mean. If the hits come off this thing pretty well, I will model all my reviews after it.

Next review will be about the game that made this system a legend. That’s right; a retro review of

 mario-bros

 

I was wondering when this would happen. Seems inevitable; new consoles come out, new games come out for it. Plus, since Call of Duty is considered the game among games by publishers, it’s no surprise that Activision would launch one for next gen. Given the rising emphasis on future tech in the franchise itself, it’s even less surprising that they named it what they did and have it take place in the future. To top off this move by Activision’s PR machine, we have Kevin Spacey as… Some business guy who might wanna become a dictator? Whatever. He’s obviously going to be the “bad guy”. In a game that isn’t particularly good at making memorable bad guys.

Yeah.

Kevin Spacey

Cynicism aside, this does look like it will at least be another festival for the eyes. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has next generation graphics that shine like diamonds on the surface of every object. The special effects flare up like sparks of nova on the sun. And the animations, even on the face, look not only detailed but are rendered both realistic and expressive. Somewhat. Kevin Spacey seems to be the core of this games star power, and will more then likely get the lions share of the acting. While his body movements are fluid enough, his face seems to be stuck in one place, at least in the trailer above. The E3 trailer that debuted  recently suggests better animations for the face of the soldiers; a good thing, since even with Kevin Spacey as star, we will most likely see a lot more high tech soldiers then him. Speaking of which…

Soldier

One thing that actually does have me at least a little excited is the new weaponry they introduce in the game. They are making it even more high-tech then before, since this takes place in the year 2054. They seem to take a hint from the GI Joe movies nobody loves so much and gives the marines of 2054 mechanical exoskeletons that make them stronger. A little gimmicky, but it serves the purpose of simplifying melee and allows you to manipulate the environment more. They already ripped out car doors to use as a shield and kick open doors that are barred. I’d like to see what that kind of strength can do to a person’s head-or a robot’s arm. Confirmed is a battery powered rifle with infinite ammo; assuming you don’t overheat it. Also confirmed are grenade that can change their function with a push of a button. Such functions include the classic frag grenade, a thermal image device that shows the position of every enemy in bright neon, and a neat concept called a smart grenade, which basically makes the grenade rocket propelled and home in on a nearby target. That could be useful for throwing around corners. You also get boosters, which are like a limited jet pack that soften your fall. This will probably annoy veteran gamers, but my favorite feature showed thus far would probably be the shield drone. Apparently, you can link yourself somehow to  drone, and control it as you move around. The shield drone moves right in front of you, blocking enemy fire, highlighting targets, and even lowers it defenses when you aim your weapon, so you can fire back when you have the shield on. Definitely a better option then the old riot shield of yore.

Heavy Gunner

It’s not confirmed completely what the main story is, but from viewing the source website, it is strongly implied that it has heavily to do with private military corporations, or PMCs. Call of Duty wouldn’t be the first game to do this, as Metal Gear Solid 4 comments heavily on their usage and was published more then half a decade ago. I would bet good money that the scene with Kevin Spacey is at the headquarters of a major mercenary corporation, and the backstory has something to do with his character’s company becoming a national threat in some way. How remains to be seen exactly, but I bet most of the guys shot up in the E3 demo were mercenaries of a rival corporation.

High Tech

IN closing, this looks to be a fun game for the average adrenaline junkie, mediocre for the narratively inclined, and another staple of the COD franchise to all parties involved. I could get into detail about how it recycles the Michael Bay zeitgeist of american white guys saving the day from something scary and different for the umpteenth time, but that is another article for another time.